Team Building – Tallest Tower

Overview: The Tallest Towers is one of the most popular and engaging team building exercises of all time. There are lots of variations on the idea including one covered in a great TED Talk by Tom Wujec.

The idea is simple: each team must use a small set of materials to create the tallest possible tower. We created our own variation of this for a Silverpop offsite a few years ago that used a few more materials and added a twist: the tower had to support a doll at the top. The exercise was hilarious and the teams build some great relationships in the process.

Set up

Each team gets a set of the following materials:

  • 10 plastic cups
  • 20 straws
  • 20 Popsicle sticks
  • Roll of duct tape
  • Roll of scotch tape
  • Roll of string
  • 6 small paper plates
  • 6 pieces of construction paper
  • 1 small doll made of fabric or plastic
  • A single measuring tape for the judges
  • Optional: black garbage bags that you can put the materials in ahead of time to add a bit of surprise to the event.

Frankly, the specific materials aren’t all that important as long as each team gets the same set of materials and they can have fun and get creative with whatever they get.

We used a team size of six people but it would work just as well with four or five. I always try to put people on teams that haven’t worked together a lot or even have some professional friction in their day jobs.

Rules:

  • The teams get 45 minutes to construct their towers and place their dolls
  • The team whose doll is highest from the base of the tower is the winner

That’s it.

Have fun and make sure to take some photos during the event.

Follow ups:

The site TeamPedia builds on this with a great idea – after the winner is declared, have a discussion with all of the teams to explore how they worked together and what they learned. Some of their suggested questions:

  • How did you decide to collaborate? Did your create a leadership structure or did you just jump in? (watching the TED video afterwards will definitely get everyone thinking)
  • What surprised you during the 45 minutes and what would you do differently if you could do it over?
  • Did you assume that you were only supposed to collaborate with those on your team? What would have been possible if you had decided to share resources across teams?

There you have it. If you’ve had experience with a variation of the team Tallest Tower exercise, I’d love to hear your thoughts on a post below.

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